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Ready to fly?

Ready to fly?

Our Kite festival in June will be the very best of Tortoise. Liz Moseley explains why

As a Tortoise member, you can get an exclusive 20 per cent discount off Kite tickets.


On 26 June 1992, I was racing down a scorched field in a tie dye pinafore dress, camping stove clunking against my leg and giant rucksack on my back, just as the opening bars of ‘A New England’ by Kirsty MacColl soared over Worthy Farm, Glastonbury. The memory still thrills. I had just turned 16.

Festivals are exhausting, mucky and uniquely magical, whatever the weather. Nothing is as reliably joyful or prolific in terms of happy-making memories. Like the one from Reading ‘92, when my friend Tina took magic mushrooms and tried to make instant mash in a puddle. Or from Glastonbury ‘05, when I was one of 50,000 people doing the John Barnes rap from New Order’s World in Motion. Or Green Man ‘07, when I sat on a broken bench in torrential Welsh rain watching folk legend Martin Stephenson and eating the world’s greatest bacon sandwich.

Kite festival, I hope, will be no different from other festivals in terms of memory-making, but it will be different in many other ways. We’re trying to create a festival that is a supercharged version of Tortoise at its best. When everybody feels they can, and want to, join in. When a hundred brains work together, and a multitude of voices engage in clarifying, energising conversation. Kite, we hope, will take that spirit of warmth and welcome and turn the volume up to 11, so to speak. It’s still a forum for civilised disagreement, only this time with five thousand people in a field. 

I confess, when this project fell into my lap sometime in 2020, I was the first to proclaim it impossible. Would a festival that puts equal emphasis on music and talks, or ideas as we’re calling it, actually work? I couldn’t imagine how we could possibly curate a programme of ThinkIns, keynotes and workshops to run for two full days, over three stages. But somehow, we did. We have. It’s on. And one way or another (whisper it) we’re starting to think it might actually be quite good. 

William Dalrymple and David Olusoga will go head to head on why we just can’t seem to learn the lessons of history; Elizabeth Day and Sathnam Sanghera will put the world to rights; David Miliband, Rory Stewart and Yalda Hakim will take foreign policy by the scruff of the neck; Richard Dawkins will deliver a keynote on defying gravity; we’ll glimpse the inner workings of Jarvis Cocker’s mind via artefacts he’s salvaged from his attic; superstar public health scientist Devi Sridhar will take us inside the decisions that defined the UK’s pandemic, and explain how to avoid another one. There’ll be Julia Hobsbawm on the future of work, Tina Brown on the royals and Mandu Reid on feminist resistance. The breakaway star of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Bimini will tell her extraordinary story to Jack Guinness of Queer Bible. George Monbiot is coming to kick up a real stink on the climate crisis and world food systems, in conversation about his new book Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet. And Kirat Assi will be in conversation with our very own Alexi Mostrous about Sweet Bobby, the Tortoise podcast that took the world by storm (and us by surprise!) last year.

The comedy line up is a real treat, including Jen Brister, Sara Barron, David O’Doherty and Reginald D. Hunter, and the music main stages, programmed by the team behind Love Supreme Festival, will feature sets from legendary artists including Grace Jones, Saint Etienne, TLC and Tom Misch. 

Keep your eyes peeled in Creative Sensemaker emails and the Tortoise app for more announcements – there’s loads more still to be revealed!

As a Tortoise member, you get 20 per cent off tickets. You can camp and glamp on site, or rent a place nearby, or you can just turn up for the day. Whatever you choose, I do hope you’ll come. 

The full line up is on the website, and you can buy tickets with a 20 per cent discount exclusively for Tortoise members here.

For any other member queries, please contact members@tortoisemedia.com.


Get in the mood by watching our previous ThinkIns in partnership with Kite.